Over the past year, a slew of shady salespeople has been hounding me by phone and through emails, trying to lure me to accept their dubious invitations to engage in whatever organizations they represent, promising me fame and fortune if I’ll only listen to their pitch. Most eventually disappear when I don’t respond to their calls or answer their emails. But there’s one undaunted sales rep who has been particularly unceasing in his pursuit, emailing me, as well as calling and texting me numerous times a week. His emails are lengthy as are his voice messages and while he claims his name is “Carl,” his East Indian accent indicates his real name is something else.
Now, Carl and these other salespeople aren’t selling gold bullion or time shares. They’re not asking for donations to the police officers’ fund or offering to eliminate my non-existent student debt. Instead, these marketers all claim to be “literary agents,” representing book distributors who want to “republish” and showcase a novel I wrote about 20 years ago – Guilty as Sin.
Really? Yes, indeed, says Carl in his latest email.
“There is a possible order of 1,500 copies of your book.”
Now, he’s either taking me for a fool, or he’s gone to the next level of salesmanship.
Still, why exactly is Carl and the others all focusing on the same 20-year-old novel and how exactly did they all acquire that one? Aren’t they aware I’ve written five more novels since then? Sheesh!
An Offer I Can’t Refuse
All these so-called literary agents use the same approach, inferring that this novel of mine came to them highly recommended. But they never say who recommended my book. That in and of itself makes me skeptical. Additionally, I’m suspicious of their whereabouts, not believing they’re located in the US at all, even though one called me from a Wyoming area code and Carl from a San Diego exchange. It’s also clear that English is not their mother tongue. Reminds me of call center representatives who are based in India or the Philippines. Now this is not a knock against other cultures; everyone has a right to make a living. But one has to question the veracity of foreign “literary agents” soliciting American writers when their first language isn’t English.
Carl, however, is wilier than the others, persistent as an annoying mosquito, differentiating himself on his fifth email to me when he claimed my old novel had been reviewed by HarperCollins no less. No other agent in the past ever mentioned an established publishing house by name. When I didn’t immediately take the bait, he sent a follow-up email asking me if got the “offer” from HarperCollins. Astute, right?
Okay, I admit that one caught my attention. Not because I believed him, but rather because it was ridiculous. Completely over the top.
So, I responded to him by questioning why the second-largest book publisher in the world would send an offer to me through a third-party, offshore agency I had never heard of instead of contacting me directly. Carl’s retort was the publisher always works this way.
Of course, I should not have let this one-sided correspondence with Carl go on for as long as it did. I should have ignored him outright, deleted his emails and swiftly blocked his phone number. In a strange way, however, I was impressed with his persistence, though I have no doubt in my mind the company he represents is dubious. (By the way, he mentioned in his first email to me that I shouldn’t believe the Yelp reviews that say his company is a scam!)
I really don’t know what Carl or any of the other literary agents would do with my book, but my gut tells me it would end up costing me money. What I learned from this experience, however, is that I could take a page out of Carl’s playbook and pursue HarperCollins or another established publishing house on my own.
It’s all about perseverance, right?